Eagerly sending your resume to the perfect job posting or trying to contact executive recruiters – but not getting a response?
If you believe your executive resume and LinkedIn Profile are both in outstanding shape, then you might be wondering if your application traveled into a black hole.
Many executives report similar experiences, with reactions ranging from despair to frustration with employers. Can’t they at least acknowledge your message?
Why don’t recruiters take the time to call you back? What can you do to avoid wondering where you stand?
Before reading too much into the lack of responses, take a look at these common reasons for employer and recruiter silence – along with ways to circumvent the black hole:
1) Anticipate a massive amount of competition when applying to ads.
Hundreds to thousands of career inquiries pour into employer job portals every week (a phenomenon common since the dawn of the economic meltdown). With this volume, many employers have turned to automatic resume screening systems (also called Applicant Tracking Systems or ATS) to help mitigate the flood.
While some systems may provide an "application accepted" message from an employer website, other career sites might lack the sophistication needed to let you know what’s happening with your leadership resume. As a result, you could be left waiting while (or if) your application was routed to the hiring manager.
To avoid the waiting game, always follow up with an actual person to ensure your resume was received. Start by identifying the hiring manager (1-2 levels up from the target position) and send this person a LinkedIn note or email. You can also contact the company’s HR department.
State in your inquiry that you’ve applied through the regular channels, and you’re now following up to ensure your application is under review. You may secure an interview this way, especially in cases where you're well-qualified and the manager didn't see your resume come through the system.
If nothing else, following up can help you understand the path your application has traveled – and keep you focused on moving forward with other opportunities.
2) Realize it’s the system, not you.
If your application is rejected, you won’t find out if employers are keeping your executive resume on file for future openings, or if you’re really not a good fit at that company. Both these scenarios take place on a regular basis.
Even when you follow up with employers, they may not have the staff or technology in place to respond to your query. In addition, there are legal ramifications for companies who issue a “rejected” message, as this can trigger more inquiries or even lawsuits.
Companies sometimes post jobs for which they’ve already identified the prime candidate, and simply collect resumes for pending opportunities.
The bottom line? Sometimes you can find out where you stand, and other times, it’s best to move on after following up once or twice. Rather than assuming a negative reaction on the part of employers (and spend your valuable time chasing down a response), you’ll get better results from minimizing online job search in your overall plan.
Networking, participating in trade industry groups, or authoring publications in your field all draw positive attention and demonstrate your executive brand value to employers, making you as “real” and authentic as possible.
The best strategy for standing out? Identifying target employers and pursuing them with focused communications that speak to their needs, rather than playing the waiting game.
3) Expect recruiters to focus on their clients first.
While skilled executives are important to recruiters, employers are the ones who foot the bill – so recruiters spend most of their time chasing down the perfect, unique fit for an open job.
In addition, independent recruiting agencies or boutique recruiters often lack the bandwidth to issue a personal reply to your query (which can be one of dozens per day).
So, you may have a fantastic leadership background, but it still may not match a particular job requirement! However, your best move is to stay on an executive recruiter’s radar (via an occasional call or email) to cultivate a mutually beneficial relationship. Your next opportunity may depend on it!
In summary, while there are many reasons your job application may not receive a response, you’ll need to focus on making personal contacts and staying in the game.
Your ability to build a credible industry presence, combined with regular relationship-building and follow-up, may just help employers realize you’re the right leader for the job.